Ultimate Guide to Visiting Seoul

As K-dramas and K-pop are on the rise these days, the popularity of South Korea, especially Seoul is rising at a fast pace. Visiting Seoul is on the bucket list of many travelers. Seoul is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, there is no doubt about that. From its culture to its untouched nature, to its food, every aspect of the city is worth the love and appreciation, not to mention the warm-hearted people that inhabit it.

Seoul is the capital of South Korea and is the fourth-largest metropolitan city in the world. Over half of South Korea’s population is concentrated in this city. The gorgeous city is a lively hub for food lovers and party people, however, there is so much more to Seoul than just that.

To give you a brief overview of the city, we will provide you with an elaborate guide for visiting Seoul city. This guide will help you plan as well as manage your visit to the golden city of South Korea. So, keep reading till the end to find out more about this Seoul-ful city. 

Visiting Seoul

Ultimate Guide to Visiting Seoul

My Soul is in Seoul – Ultimate Guide to Visiting Seoul 

My Seoul is in Seoul

The city of Seoul is part of South Korea, an Asian nation and is also its capital. The metropolitan Seoul city is found in the northern part of the South Korean peninsula and harbours a population of more than 10 million. The city is enclosed by mountains that further accentuate its beauty. Visitors can find an endless array of things to do here. Seoul is a hub for foodies, party lovers, culture enthusiasts, and nature activists. From traditional places to cutting-edge museums, the city of Seoul is home to aspects that suit the taste of all kinds of visitors.

The most popular attractions in the city include Bukchon Hanok Village, Gyeongbokgung Palace, and Seoul City Wall. All of these attractions harbour an abundance of cultural architecture. The traditional markets of Seoul, such as Insadong, and Namdaemun are an exciting way to experience the city’s unique culture. Seoul is also known around the world for its delicious street food. Among its iconic street food the most popular dishes are tteokbokki, bibimbap, kimchi, and fried chicken. Seoul also has a vibrant nightlife and features a wide array of clubs and bars. 

Best Time for Visiting Seoul – Ultimate Guide to Visiting Seoul 

best time to Visit Seoul

Similar to Japan, South Korea also has four seasons that are Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Even though all the seasons have something new in store for visitors the most popular ones for visiting Seoul are, Spring from March to Way and Fall from mid-September to early November as the weather during these months is ideal and the landscape is at its most striking. During both of these seasons, Seoul dons on dresses of distinct colors to signal their arrival. During Spring, Seoul is decked in cherry blossom pinks and white, and in Fall Seoul opts for a dress consisting of fiery reds, oranges, and yellows. 

Spring (March to May) – Spring is one of the best and the loveliest time for visiting Seoul. The city erupts with flowers, that decorate every nook and cranny of Seoul and the weather is also quite ideal. If walking under the blooming cherry blossoms and taking stunning pictures amidst the cherry blossom rain is on your agenda, then you should visit Seoul in the second week of April. You can also take a day trip to Jinhae which is home to South Korea’s biggest cherry blossom festival. 

Summer (June to August) – Summer season might not be the best time to visit Seoul. This is because the weather is hot and humid, and rain showers are plenty. Moreover, prices during summer season are also quite high as it is peak time for domestic tourism. Therefore, it is best to avoid these months. 

Fall (September to November) – If you are not chasing cherry blossoms, then plan your trip to Seoul around the Fall season, as the city is strikingly beautiful during these months. The weather is also ideal for sightseeing, and the foliage is stunning.

Winter (December to February) – If you wish to experience snow and go skiing or snowboarding, then winter is the best time to go. Winter in South Korea is freezing so make sure to pack lots of warm clothes. 

Getting to Seoul – Ultimate Guide to Visiting Seoul

Getting to Seoul

There are numerous ways via which you can get to Seoul depending on where you are. Almost all of the international flights land at Incheon International Airport and from there you can get to downtown Seoul via numerous ways. 

Airport Express or AREX – Going to Seoul via airport express is the fastest way to get to the city from the airport. The express runs like clockwork and will get you to Seoul Station in a matter of 43 minutes. The trains have free Wi-Fi on board and are extremely comfortable. You can purchase the tickets in advance through Klook and get a discount or you can purchase them at the gate for KRW 9,500. 

All-Stop Train – After the airport express this is the fastest way to get to Seoul from Incheon. The all-stop train will drop you off at Seoul Station within 58 minutes and costs half of what you will have to pay at AREX. The price of ticket for all-stop train ranges from KRW 4,150 to 4,750 and it runs from 5:23 a.m. to 11:40 p.m.

Bus – A bus takes longer than a trains, about 80 minutes and the cost of its one-way ticket ranges from KRW 5,000 to 15,000. Late-night buses run from 12:00 a.m. to 4:40 a.m. and drop off passengers at Seoul Station, while buses to Gangnam Express Bus Terminal run from 11:40 p.m. to 4:20 a.m. 

Taxi – Going to Seoul via taxi is quite convenient and also very expensive. It will take you an hour to get to Seoul via a taxi and you will have to pay anywhere between KRW 65,000 to 90,000. 

Getting Around, When Visiting Seoul – Ultimate Guide to Visiting Seoul 

Getting around Seoul

Public Transportation – When visiting Seoul, you can easily get around the city via public transportation. All the major cities in South Korea have well-established subway systems. One-way fares for subways usually range from 1,25 to 1,350 KRW. You can also opt for a day pass that will cost you around 5,000 KRW. City buses are also available to take you around the city. Seoul has two types of buses, that are seated which are more expensive, and regular. Both of these buses run the same route. 

Taxi – You can also opt for a taxi to take you around the city. However, this transportation option is a bit expensive. 

Car Rentals – if you have an International Driving Permit, you can easily rent a car in Seoul. You can pick up rental cars at the airport or in most neighborhoods. 

High-Speed Rails – To venture out of Seoul you can opt for high-speed rails that are fast, safe, and efficient. 

Where to Stay When Visiting Seoul – Ultimate Guide to Visiting Seoul 

Neighbourhoods of Seoul

Seoul houses a number of accommodations from hostels to Airbnbs to luxury and budget hotels and even traditional hanok houses. You can find a plethora of accommodations in the most popular neighborhoods of Seoul. Therefore, before settling on the type of accommodation, first decide on the neighbourhood you will stay. 

Insa-Dong 

Insa-dong lies at a prime location in Seoul and is close to some of the major attractions in the city including palaces as well as the Bukchon Hanok Village. The neighborhood is home to plenty of restaurants and shops and is also conveniently located near multiple subways. 

Best Accommodations in Insa-Dong

  • Hostel Haru 
  • Grid Inn Hotel
  • Charm Hank Guest House
  • Mini Hotel Insa
  • Makers Hotel 
  • Sunbee Hotel Insa-Dong Seoul
  • Yehadoye Guesthouse
  • Star Hostel Insa-Dong
  • Sunny Guesthouse Seoul City
  • Orakai Insa-Dong Suites

Gangnam 

If you have heard the popular song by PSY, Gangnam Style, then you know what to expect of Gangnam. This neighborhood of Seoul is flashy, fashionable, and of course expensive. Gangnam is also the beauty and K-fashion district of Seoul. Here you will find places giving K-beauty treatments and many shops that will dress you in opulent clothes making you feel like the main lead of a K-drama. 

Best Accommodations in Gangnam 

  • Grand Intercontinental Seoul Parnas
  • Voco Seoul Gangnam 
  • Park Hyatt Seoul
  • Andaz Seoul Gangnam
  • Dormy Inn Seoul Gangnam 
  • Josun Palace 
  • Intercontinental Seoul Coex
  • Hotel NewV
  • L7 Gangnam 
  • Ananti at Gangnam 

Hongdae 

Hongdae is a favorite neighborhood among locals and tourists alike. The neighbourhood is home to great restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. The neighbourhood resonates with a fun, lively, and young atmosphere. Its little winding streets and city park are perfect places to go out for a stroll and interact with people. 

Best Accommodations in Hongdae

  • Ryse, Autograph Collection Marriott
  • Chuls Lodge 
  • Heima Guesthouse Hongdae
  • TwoTwo House
  • Hongdae Style Guesthouse
  • L7 Hongdae by Lotte
  • Naru Guesthouse
  • Apelbaum2 Hongdae
  • Hotel Baroato
  • Brownie Guesthouse

Myeongdong

If you want to live close to the major attractions of Seoul, Myeongdong is another solid option. The neighbourhood lies just between the palaces and Namsan Tower and offers its visitors a plethora of hotel options.

Best Accommodations in Myeongdong

  • Hotel28 Myeongdong 
  • L’Escape Hotel 
  • Lotte Hotel Seoul Executive Tower
  • Aloft Seoul Myeongdong 
  • G2 Hotel Myeongdong 
  • Four Points by Sheraton Josun, Seoul Myeongdong
  • L7 Myeongdong by Lotte
  • Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Seoul Myeongdong
  • Pacific Hotel
  • Metro Hotel Myeongdong 

Itaewon 

Itaewon is a popular Seoul neighborhood among expats, especially American expats. The neighborhood is lauded for its shopping scene and nightlife. If this is your first time in Asia, a stay in Itaewon will do you well as you will find many tourists here. The neighborhood of course has a very distinct Korean charm and a dazzling Asian personality. However, keep in mind that Itaewon is a very hilly area. So, if you don’t like walking or have mobility issues it’s best to find accommodations elsewhere.  

Best Accommodations in Itaewon 

  • Grand Hyatt Seoul 
  • Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel 
  • G Guesthouse Itaewon 
  • Dodam Guesthouse 
  • Hamilton Hotel
  • Jin’s Paradise 
  • Itaewon A One Hotel 
  • Pop @ Itaewon Guesthouse 
  • Avocado Guesthouse 
  • MOSC

Where to Eat When Visiting Seoul – Ultimate Guide to Visiting Seoul 

Where to Eat in Seoul

Eatanic Garden 

Address – 231, Teheran-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Eatanic Garden is a Michelin-starred restaurant that can be found on the 36th floor of Josun Palace. Decked in jade hues and central moss island, the place is like a tranquil garden that soothes the mind and relaxes the soul. Its kitchen serves ethereal and reinvented Korean food that will make your tastebuds dance with joy. 

Gaeseong Mandu Koong 

Address – 11-3 Insadong 10-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

When visiting Seoul make sure to stop by Gaeseong Mandu Koong in Jongno. Gaeseong Mandu Koong is a traditional hanok that serves hand-prepared big, plump Gaeseong-style dumplings.

The Great Hong Yuan

Address – South Korea, Seoul, Gangnam-gu, Teheran-ro, 231 

You will find the Great Hong Tuan restaurant, sitting on the 36th floor of the Josun Palace. The restaurant serves its guests high-end Chinese food like spicy seafood noodle soup and delicious, nuanced jjamppong. 

Mongtan 

Address – 50 Baekbeom-ro 99-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Mongtan is a buzzy barbecue restaurant that serves hundreds of customers on a daily basis. Due to its fame, the wait time for Mongtan is quite long. However, it’s udae galbi and beef ribs are worth the wait. 

Onjium Restaurant 

Address – South Korea, Seoul, Jongno-gu, Hyoja-ro, 49

Onjium Restaurant is a small Michelin-starred restaurant that can be found residing in Jongno. The restaurant uses fresh seasonal ingredients to craft dishes that will ignite your taste buds and fill your soul with joy. Onjium Restaurant is decked with gorgeous pottery and houses an inspiration room, where the chefs go for ideas for this next dish. 

Things to do When Visiting Seoul – Ultimate Guide to Visiting Seoul

things to do in Seoul

When Visiting Seoul, Tour the Five Grand Palaces

Total Time of Visit – 1 to 3 hours per palace 

Entry Fee – KRW 1,000 to 3,000 per palace 

Seoul calls itself home to five Joseon Royal Palaces namely, Changgyeonggung, Gyeongbokgung, Gyeonghuigung, Changdeokgung, and Deoksugung. Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung are the biggest and undoubtedly the most beautiful of the five Joseon Palaces. In Gyeongbokgung you can watch the changing of the Royal Guard while Changdeokgung, which is a UNESCO Heritage Site is home to the Huwon or Secret Garden that you can visit. You can also rent a hanbok in the palaces and take pictures as you stroll their ancient expanse. In case you are thinking about visiting multiple palaces, opt for an Integrated Palace Ticket that costs KRW 10,000 and grants access to all of the five palaces. 

When Visiting Seoul, Stroll the Bukchon Hanok Village 

Total Time of Visit – 1 to 2 hours 

Entry Fee – Free

In the ultramodern metropolis of Seoul lies the Bukchon Hanok Village which is composed of a labyrinth of narrow alleyways and is home to traditional Korean houses that are called hanoks. Exploring the charming network of streets of this village will transport you back in time and will allow you to glimpse the Seoul of 600 years ago. Just like the palaces you can rent a hanbok here to truly immerse yourself in the experience. 

When Visiting Seoul, Visit the N Seoul Tower

Total Time of Visit – 1 to 2 hours

Entry Fee – KRW 16,000

When visiting Seoul, make your way to the N Seoul Tower for exceptional views of the city. The N Seoul Tower stands at 1,575 feet or 480 meters above sea level and its observation deck is the best place to get bird’s eye views of Seoul city. You will find the tower on Mt. Namsan and can access it via road or a cable car. Tickets to the observatory can be purchased at the gate. 

When Visiting Seoul, Tour Dongdaemun Design Plaza or DDP

Total Time of Visit – 2 to 3 hours 

Entry Fee – Entry is free however some exhibits charge a fee for admission

Dongdaemun Design Plaza is an incredible place and if you like design, then you must visit this place. The plaza is like a design supermarket, museum, and spaceship, packed in one sleek package. Dongdaemun Design Plaza was designed by a renowned architect, Zaha Hadid who was also behind the 2012 Olympic Aquatic Center in London as well as the Guangzhou Opera House in China. Make sure to visit the place at night, as it truly comes to life when the sun goes down. 

When Visiting Seoul, Tour the Jogyesa Temple

Total Time of Visit – 30 minutes to 1 hour 

Entry Fee – Free

One of the most important Buddhist temples in South Kora is Jogyesa Temple. The temple is the head temple of the Jogye Order of South Korean Bushism and also serves as the main venue for Buddhist events, lectures, ceremonies, as well as rituals.

When in Seoul, See the COEX Mall Library 

Total Time of Visit – 2 to 3 hours

Entry Fee – Free

In recent years COEX Mall which lies in the Gangnam district has become quote popular among the netizens all thanks to its beautiful library that is situated in the middle of the mall. The library named; Starfield Library is an open-air public place that houses hundreds of books as well as magazines. It has become a popular picture-taking spot in Seoul due to its stunning architectural shelf of books.

When Visiting Seoul, Stroll its Traditional Markets

Total Time of Visit – 2 to 3 hours 

Entry Fee – Free

The traditional markets in Seoul are the best places to find the most delicious street food. The capital city is home to some of the most amazingly interesting traditional markets like Gwangjang Market, Noryangjin Fish Market, and Nandaemun Market. In these markets, you will find everything from traditional wares to traditional food. 

When Visiting Seoul, Walk Along Cheonggyecheon Stream

Total Time of Visit – 30 minutes to 1 hour 

Entry Fee – Free

Running through the heart of downtown Seoul, Cheonggyecheon Stream is an 11 km stream that passes underneath 22 bridges as well as a number of city landmarks and opens into the Han River. The stream is a popular picture-taking spot in the city and is also a great place to get rid of the heat in summer. 

When Visiting Seoul Go on a K-Pop and K-Drama Tour

Total Time of Visit – Depends on the tour company 

Fee – Depends on the tour company

Many people are turning towards South Korea due to K-pop and K-dramas. In fact, diehard fans of K-pop bands fly to Seoul routinely to attend concerts and fan meetings. If you have a fascination and infatuation with the pop and drama culture of South Korea, book a K-pop tour with Klook. You can also opt for a K-pop dance class or go for a K-pop recording studio experience. 

Cost of Visiting Seoul – Ultimate Guide to Visiting Seoul

Accommodation – A bed in a 4 to 6-bed hostel from will cost about KRW 20,000 to 25,000. Whereas, if you opt for a bed in an 8 or more beds dorm room, it will cost you about KRW 14,000 to 20,000. A single hostel private room will set you back by KRW 40,000, whereas a double room in a hostel will cost about KRW 70,000. Free WIFI, complimentary breakfast, and communal kitchens are standard in hostels across South Korea. 

The cost of a cheap hotel room that sleeps one starts at KRW 28,000, whereas the cost of a double room starts from at least KRW 40,000. Cheap hotels offer basic amenities like TV, air conditioning, WIFI, and an electric teapot. However, most budget hotels do not give complimentary breakfast. Airbnbs are also available throughout Seoul, with prices for private rooms starting at KRW 25,000 to 30,000. Whereas, if you rent an entire apartment, expect to pay at least KRW 50,000 to 70,000 per night. 

Food – Dining out in a traditional South Korean restaurant is inexpensive. Expect to pay around KRW 9,000 to 15,000 for a causal traditional meal, whereas a three-course traditional meal at a mid-range restaurant will cost about KRW 25,000 to 30,000. Western food in South Korea is more expensive and a pasta dish at an Italian restaurant will set you back by at least KRW 20,000. 

When it comes to fast food, you will be able to get a combo meal for KRW 7,000 while a single burger will cost KRW 4,500. The cost of a typical South Korean Street food dish ranges from RW 1,500 to 3,000. You will be able to get a pint of beer for KRW 4,000 to 5,000 while a glass of wine will cost anywhere around KRW 6,000 and a cocktail will cost KRW 7,000. 

A latte or a cappuccino will set you back by KRW 5,000. While visiting Seoul if you plan on cooking for yourself, expect to pay around KRW 50,000 to 70,000 per week for basic staples like pasta, vegetables, meat, and rice. 

Breakdown of Cost for Visiting Seoul on the Basis of Different Types of Travelers – Ultimate Guide to Visiting Seoul

 Accommodation (KRW)Food  (KRW)Transportation (KRW)Attractions (KRW)Average Daily Cost (KRW)
Backpacker25,00025,00015,00010,00075,000
Mid-Range40,00040,00020,00035,000135,000
Luxury70,00055,00060,00070,000255,000

5-Day and 6-Night Itinerary When Visiting Seoul – Ultimate Guide to Visiting Seoul

Seoul is a massive city and to truly get the feel of the city at least stay there for seven days. Given below is a quick 5-day and 6-night itinerary that will help you plan your trip to Seoul: 

Day One of Visiting Seoul

  • Gyeongbokgung Palace
  • Bukchon Hanok Village
  • Changdeokgung Palace
  • Changgyeonggung Palace
  • Jongmyo Shrine
  • Ikseondong Hanok Village
  • Insa-Dong
  • Jogyesa Temple

Day Two of Visiting Soul

  • Gyeonghuigung Palace
  • Deoksugung Palace
  • Namdaemun Market
  • N Seoul Tower
  • Myeongdong

Day 3 of Visiting Seoul

  • Noryangjin Fish Market
  • Hongdae
  • Bongeunsa Temple
  • COEX Mall
  • Gangnam Shopping Street

Day Four of Visiting Seoul

  • Cheonggyecheon Stream
  • Gwangjang Market
  • Ihwa Mural Village
  • Dongdaemun Design Plaza
  • Itaewon

Day Five of Visiting Seoul

  • Nami Island 

Tips for Visiting Seoul

  • Get a Pocket WIFI device as the internet is a necessity these days.
  • If you plan on visiting more than one palace in Seoul, opt for an Integrated Palace Ticket.
  • In case you are planning on visiting many attractions get a Discover Seoul Pass that gives foreign visitors free admission to many of the city’s top attractions. The pass also gives discounts on various entertainment and shopping facilities in Seoul.
  • Before flying to Seoul, make sure to get travel insurance from a reputable company. 
  • As the electrical outlets in South Korea are round, the plugs are typically Type F or Type C. Therefore, make sure to bring the right power adapters for your phones and other devices.

Also Read

Food for Seoul: Top 10 Best South Korean Dishes

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